Local romaine lettuce safe, says agriculture official

Despite the decision the United States, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) tol recall of romaine lettuce due to an E. Coli outbreak in Canada and parts of the United States, agriculture officials in Antigua and Barbuda say there is a safer alternative for consumers wishing to purchase the produce.

Health authorities are currently pulling imported lettuce from grocery and supermarket shelves as part of a risk management strategy in response to the recent outbreak.

While this is happening, Senior Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Owalabi Elabanjo, is reminding consumers that farmers in Antigua also produce top quality romaine lettuce that is safe for consumption.

“The local farmers, especially at the back-yard level, produce a lot of romaine and other types of lettuce. So we want to use this opportunity to inform all supermarket owners, hoteliers and restaurant owners that locally-produced romaine is available on the local market and they are asked to support the local farmers,” Elabanjo said.

He stressed that now is the time to support locally grown produce and small-scale farmers, noting that “you know what you are getting, the price may be a little expensive, but it is of very good quality.”

 Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are bacteria found in the environment, food, and intestines of people and animals. E. coli are a large and diverse group of bacteria, although most strains of E. Coli are harmless, others can make you sick.

Earlier this week, the United States, Centre for Disease Control (CDC), issued an advisory asking for all U.S. consumers to throw out any type of romaine lettuce, even if some people did not get sick after consuming the produce. The agency also told restaurants and retailers not to sell any more romaine lettuce until more is learned about the outbreak.

The advisory includes all types of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix and Caesar salads.

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